17 The Villages of Fudin and Permskoye
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157 17 The Villages of Fudin and Permskoye Tribulations of the First Russian Settlers. The Hunters. The Wildlife Refuge for Deer. What Antlers in Velvet Cost. Kashlev the Tiger Killer. Dunes. A Manchurian Field Mouse. The End of the Road. The Arzamasovka River is the largest left tributary of the Vay-Fudzin, and there is a small Russian village called Fudin (later renamed Vetkin) located just above their confluence. The original settlers were among the first immigrants to the Kray from European Russia, but by 1906 there wereonlyfourfamiliesremaining.1Thereissomethingspecialaboutthis place;thecozy-lookinghousesareweatheredbutclean,andthepeasants are cheerful and good-natured. They greeted us warmly. The elders gathered that evening. They told us about the hardships they endured their first years settling this strange land. They were broughttotheUssuriKrayin1859—droppedoffatSaintOlgaBay—and left to fend for themselves.2 They first established a small village called Novinka [“new”], which was only a kilometer inland from the bay, but they soon understood that the further they got from the coast, the less fog there was. So they relocated up the Vay-Fudzin. By 1906, all that remainedofNovinkawasasingleoccupiedhouseandemptyspaceswhere the others had once stood. 1. Now called Vetka (“branch” in Russian), this village still exists as of 2014, with a few dozen households. 2. These were the first Russians to settle anywhere in the Ussuri Kray (Arsenyev 1914). 158 The 1906 Expedition The immigrants met more misfortune on the Vay-Fudzin. They na- ïvely planted fields low in the valley, and all their crops and hay were obliterated by the first flood. Tigers depredated all of their livestock and even started to attack the villagers. There was only one firearm among them, and it was a percussion lock at that.3 They resorted to working for the Chinese to keep from starving and were paid their wages in millet: 400 grams per day of work. Accounts were settled monthly, and it was up to the peasants to collect this millet themselves, which they hauled on their backs a distance of 68 kilometers. It was difficult for the older generation to become fully integrated with this new place, given the vivid memories they retained of their homeland.Fortheyoungergenerationitwaseasier;theyadaptedquickly and became exemplary hunters and terrific marksmen. River rapids didn’t bother them one bit, and they soon started exploring the sea as well. In European Russia, a solo bear hunt was considered a heroic feat, but here one-on-one encounters with bears were a matter of routine, even for the youth. Nekrasov extolled a peasant who killed forty bears, yetherewerethePyatyshkinandMyakishevbrothers,eachofwhomhad killedmorethanseventybearsapieceonsolohunts.4Thentherewerethe Silins and Borovs, who had each killed several tigers and had long ago lost track of their bear count. They once even decided to capture and tie up a bear just for fun, and nearly died in the process. Every one of these hunters had been scarred by tiger tooth and boar tusk, and each had looked death squarely in the face on countless occasions. The peasants of Fudin took their hunting seriously. They didn’t only kill animals, they also managed their populations. This is significant. They held a meeting early on where they agreed to not shoot female deer ortheircalvesandtonottakemalesduringtherut.Theyalsoestablished their own wildlife refuge with demarked borders and promised each other that they would not hunt within its boundaries. Newcomers from European Russia, part of a later immigration wave, did not respect these 3. A rudimentary rifle, the successor to the flintlock, patented in 1807. 4. Nikolay Nekrasov (1821–1878), a well-known Russian poet, wrote a poem in 1853 called “In the Country,” in which a peasant successfully spears forty bears but is killed by the forty-first. The Villages of Fudin and Permskoye 159 rulesandbegantohuntthereanyway.Asthewildliferefugewasaprivate initiative on public land, legally there was nothing the locals could do to prevent others from hunting there. Poachers took advantage of this, and the remarkable program instigated by the peasants of Fudin thus came to an end. Antlers in velvet from that area, Olginsky Rayon, are highly prized and can fetch up to 1,200 rubles a pair.5 In Permskoye, I saw some antlers that the peasant Pyatyshkin had that were 52 centimeters tall, 22 centimeters across, and had a diameter of 8 centimeters at their base. They had started to branch at the tips, and weighed 4.4 kilograms. He subsequently sold them for what was considered a very low cost: 870 rubles.6 The Pyatyshkin brothers said that they had sold four pairs of antlers in 1905 for a total profit...

Subject Headings

  • Ussuri River Valley (Russia and China) -- Description and travel.
  • Natural history -- Ussuri River Valley (Russia and China).
  • Dersu Uzala.
  • Arsenʹev, V. K. (Vladimir Klavdievich), 1872-1930 -- Travel -- Ussuri River Valley (Russia and China).
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